The state government in Rajasthan announced that it will give free smartphones with internet connectivity to families covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), which currently stands at one crore families in the state, per Times of India.
The scheme ‘Bhamashah Digital Parivar Yojana’ was announced by Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje on Tuesday and is meant for those eligible for NFSA under the Bhamashah Card. Each family will receive Rs. 1000 in their bank accounts in two installments. Those eligible will receive Rs 500 in the first installment to buy smartphones at special camps run by the government, while the second installment will be credited once they get internet connections and download apps such as the Bhamashah app.
The state is due for elections this year, although poll dates are yet to be announced; the tenure of the present Vasundhara Raje led government will come to end on January 2019.
The government’s Bhamashah scheme is aimed at “financial inclusion, women empowerment and effective service delivery,” according to a brochure (pdf) for the program. Each family under the program is issued a ‘Bhamashah card’ which is linked to a resident’s bank account via their Aadhaar number. The scheme is designed to manage everything from public distribution system (PDS) rations to direct benefit transfer (DBT) payments from the government to citizens’ bank accounts.
A scheme brochure (pdf) by the state government says, “No Bhamashah enrolment is under taken without Aadhaar number and core bank account. If a resident does not have Aadhaar number, then he/she is enrolled for Aadhaar and then Bhamashah enrolment is under taken using Aadhaar ID.”
Last week, the state government launched a digital wallet under its Bhamashah program, in partnership with Yes Bank. The app also supports QR payments, but only to recipients that have the wallet installed. It’s unclear if the app supports UPI.